Published on June 29th, 2012 | by Yellow Magpie1
Once Upon A Time In Anatoli Film Review: A Beautifully Shot Movie
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia Film Review
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
Cast: Muhammet Uzuner, Taner Birsel and Firat Tanis.
Here is Yellow Magpie’s Once Upon A Time In Anatoli film review.
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia presents a rare insight into a world most of us will never see.
Two cars and a jeep drive into the Turkish night, their headlights scything through the darkness, as they search for a dead body at a late hour. Filling the vehicles are two murder suspects, a prosecutor, a doctor, grave diggers and members of the police.
Yet even through the tight confines of serious matters the human world of the mundane and the everyday intrude as the film weaves a complex tapestry of Turkish life in times of great adversity. The parties in the car, possibly inured by frequently dealing with such crimes, chat about the everyday in between trying to find the location of the body.
‘Nusret is someone who has risen through the ranks without any real ability to do the job he is given.’
Muhammet Uzuner gives a masterful performance as the understated Doctor Cemal. The Doctor is a taciturn character that gives little away. His appears to be much smarter that the prosecutor who leads the entire investigation. Uzuner excels at giving subtle glimpses into a character who is in emotional turmoil but one who is trying his best to not give away his emotions.
Taner Birsel’s Prosecutor Nusret is very convincing. Nusret is someone who has risen through the ranks without any real ability to do the job he is given. Continually bailed out by those around him, he is too incompetent to justifiably being given a job with such responsibility.
Birsel manages the difficult challenge of highlighting Nusret’s incompetence while also demonstrating the pushy, controlling personality that allowed him to overreach in his career and appear capable.
‘Stuck and devoid of hope, Tanis’s Kenan is dripping with desperation and despair’
Firat Tanis plays murder suspect Kenan with great nuances. Kenan is morose and depressed throughout much of the film as he fully realises what lies ahead of him. Stuck and devoid of hope, Tanis’s Kenan is dripping with desperation and despair as he understands what he is about to lose.
The murder suspect is also a mysterious character that doesn’t quite appear to add up but neither the police, the prosecutor or the doctor are willing to ask probing questions.
On the surface, this is a murder-mystery film in reverse. The difference being that the characters are looking for the victim as opposed to the murderer. But dig a little deeper and you soon discover that this is a tale about truths and lies. Every adult character in Once Upon A Time In Anatoli is a liar and not the white variety either.
‘the mistruths in Once Upon A Time In Anatoli should not have been told.’
By the film’s end all parties involved come out poorly. There is not a single sympathetic character that emerges unscathed and many abuse their power.
Everybody lies. It is a social lubricant that keeps social relations working. These are acceptable lies – but the mistruths in Once Upon A Time In Anatoli should not have been told.
There is also a second great absence in the film. It is the absence of responsibility. From the police commissar to the prosecutor, from the doctor to Kenan – all neglect their responsibilities. The commissar beats up the suspects, the prosecutor bullies those under him and the doctor also fails to take responsibility in his own manner.
Once Upon A Time In Anatoli is a wonderfully shot, moving portrait of several Turkish individuals whose life paths cross with dramatic and terrible consequences. The movie is also a film about truths and how often we create fiction out of convenience.
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